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New Shows (2013): November 24 - 30

Happy Hanukkah! A week filled with music for a change. The New Shows color code: red means don’t bother; blue means maybe; green means good; magenta means great.

Sofia The First: The Floating Palace (Disney)
Because Disney doesn’t have enough princesses, they launched Sofia the First last November. The Floating Palace is an hour long movie instead of a half hour episode of the show. I loved it. Yes, it is a Disney show with all that implies (bad singing of sappy songs and a story that you already know), but this time around it was pure girl power. Not a prince in sight (even the head of the mermaid colony is a Queen) and it is Sophia and Cora who save Oona. Perfect for small kids and the inner child in us all.

Getting On (HBO)
HBO is styling this as a comedy, but I didn’t get the joke. Two nurses work on the Extended Care floor of a hospital and deal with petty interoffice squabbles while people are dying all around them. The cast is terrific and do the best with what they’ve been given, but the writing couldn’t find the line between terribly funny and terribly sad. The pilot dealt with feces on a chair. An apt metaphor, I’m afraid.

Ja’mie: Private School Girl (HBO)
Chris Lilley, an Australian comic, plays Ja’mie. So, the joke is that a guy in drag is playing the leader of the pack of mean girls. It got old quickly. The problem is that there is absolutely nothing redeemable about the character. She is a spoiled, nasty young girl who is in serious need of a kick in the shins. I found myself actively disliking her about five minutes in and, by the end of the first half hour, bored. Skip this.

Breaking the Faith (TLC)

Toxic Hot Seat (HBO)
A documentary about the use of flame retardant chemicals in consumer objects. Many people now believe that not only do these chemicals not work in terms of preventing the spread of fire, they are toxic. The filmmakers are clearly on the side of the people who want to ban these chemicals, but there are fair and present a fairly balanced picture of the issue. Not the most fascinating documentary I have seen, but the issue was well presented.

Generation Cryo (MTV)
I am fascinated by the nature/nurture debate and this series explores that issue in an extremely compelling way. Bree is a seventeen year old who has known all her life that she is the product of sperm donation. She has discovered that she has fourteen half-siblings, spread out across the country and being raised in every social and economic strata that you can imagine. In the pilot, she goes to visit two of the siblings and their parents. Bree is determined to find her father and she enlists her brother’s help as male DNA is better to track the donor. The brother is fine; his father less so and there is an incredibly moving scene where the father breaks down and explains that he doesn’t want a stranger becoming his kids’ father. I am really looking forward to seeing how this series plays out and in what it has to say about the modern family.

Rich at Night (TV Guide Network)
Seriously Amazing Objects (Smithsonian)

Marshal Law: Texas (TNT)
Swampsgiving (History)

The Making of The Sound of Music (NBC)
I have been silently maligning this show since I saw they were going to do it. This hour, however, convinced me to go into it with an open mind. The songs sound great, the staging is all new, and Underwood and Moyer have some chemistry. Let’s face it, that’s where the movie falls flat. Stay tuned for my review next week.

SNL Thanksgiving (NBC)
Maybe Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday that inspires hilarity, but these sketches were truly awful. There was a lot of families sitting around tables and there are only so many dysfunctional family sketches one can watch before the theme loses its edge. This was two hours long and I felt every minute of it.

Lady Gaga and The Muppets’ Holiday Spectacular (ABC)
Don’t get me wrong. I love Lady Gaga and I love the Muppets. Together, however, it didn’t work. The juxtaposition of sketches with the Muppets doing their thing with Lady Gaga doing hers was jarring. And, while Lady Gaga is a brilliant singer, watching her try to act was just painful. Guest stars included Sir Elton (singing, I kid you not, “Gaga and the Jets”) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt who killed a duet of “Baby It’s Cold Outside” -- definitely the highlight.

Barbra Streisand: Back to Brooklyn (PBS)
Where you fall on the Barbra spectrum will determine how you feel about this special. It lasts for three hours (with a few interruptions while PBS begs for money) and she sings every song of hers that I could think of. If you are a fan, watch. If not, don’t.

Garth Brooks: Live from Las Vegas (CBS)
Again, where you fall on the Garth spectrum will determine whether or not you should watch this. Even as a fan (which I am), though, be prepared. He spends too much time playing songs that aren’t his as he discusses the influences on his music. And, perhaps inevitably, there are a couple of songs he sings that were recorded by his wife. I am also a huge fan of hers, but if I wanted to listen to Trisha Yearwood, I would. Finally, as much as I loved hearing Garth sing his songs, I wish he done more so.

Hollywood Scandals (Reelz)
Jinxed (Nickelodeon)

Dear Secret Santa (Lifetime)


  1. Terrific rundown as usual, Chris. It doesn't sound like there's much I want to catch, but I absolutely loved the cat photo. It might be my favorite so far.

  2. That is a gorgeous photo! And broke up all the Christmas trees appearing on my Facebook feed nicely :)

  3. Great summary, ChrisB! I will definitely give the Chris Lilley thing a go as I've seen the original series he did with Ja'mie. It took me a little while to warm up to it but I became a fan. It actually has a lot more heart than is immediately apparent. He normally mixes Ja'mie in with other characters, though, and she may be a little one-note on her own. And I will have to try the Muppets anyway, because Muppets! As always, my profound gratitude because without you I wouldn't have known either of them exist.


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